Sander & DaniëlleOur Toronto life...

Our Toronto life...

Frozen in Ontario…

One of the things we wanted to do since a couple of weeks was visiting the Niagara Falls in winter style. Last weekend wasn’t an option since we already had other things planned, next week we are hopefully enjoying some sunshine and if we come back temperatures might be above zero again, last time was the 29th of January. So in short today could be the last day to see them in Frozen style…

But before we left towards Niagara Falls we wanted to check in for our flights to Orlando, Florida for tomorrow. Yes flights since we are flying separate since I booked my flight through the office and Danielle booked hers through Air Canada direct and got an unbelievable low price from 365$ including all taxes (250 Euro). After all the booking was done we got ourselves a Starbucks coffee treat and a delicious chocolate chip cookie. Ok, the cookies are not as good as Danielle’s but they are the best chocolate chip cookies you can get at Starbucks, way better as the American version and just a bit better as the German ones.

When we left it started snowing a bit, nothing terrible since we got used to it the last months. During the drive it got worse, we had a delay because of a big accident on the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) and after just over 2 hours we arrived.

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It was beautiful and cold. Danielle was happy to have seen it, for me it was the 2nd time during the winter season after I went in 2012 during a business trip together with Martin, a colleague. This time it was less cold but there was more snow and ice.

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The way back was terrible, we never drove over 80km/h since the roads were covered with snow and crashed cars. It took us over 2,5 hour to get back but we arrived back safe.

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After we got back I decided to wash our car in the cleaning zone in our parking garage. It’s free but it’s also do-it-yourself version. I guess it’s about 8 years ago I washed my car by hand. I think it’s better for your car to wash it by hand and I see it as one of the perks of living in the Minto Midtown towers but I felt a bit tired afterwards, maybe we should have bought a smaller SUV?

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Now it’s bedtime since the taxi will be waiting for us at 4:15am tomorrow.

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Canadian cold and snowshoeing…

After we opened the door from our Condo when we came back from our to short winter break in California we found a letter that the thermal unit (the whole door) would be replaced on that same day. After we watched up on some sleep the technicians came in the afternoon, within only minutes the whole unit was gone…outside it was about -14 degrees celsius and snowing and that made a 45 degree difference within 24 hours for us…

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You can imagine we felt really cold while waiting for the technicians to be finished in about an hour. After the unit was placed back we turned up the heating and soon it the temperature was back to normal again.

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On Thursday evening a colleague from Germany visited us, thanks for bringing the Whiskey! We decided early that day to go together to Jupiter Ascending, a movie, at the SilverCity across the street. The movie started but there was something wrong with the 3D image quality. After one of the other guests informed the staff is was resolved. The movie was good and when we left the theatre one of the employees handed out courtesy tickets for another movie because of the issue in the beginning. I love the service mentality here in Canada, you don’t even have to complain to get it…

And than it was time for a long weekend, we started early on Saturday with a visited to the Yorkdale Shopping centre. We went there to order a chair, we already looked at this chair for a long time but wanted to look for more options at other stores but nothing came close to this one…it’s in stock in the new jersey warehouse and we can pick it up in the local warehouse at the beginning of March and then our living room is finished!

Finished? Wasn’t there an Ottoman which still needed to be picked up? Yes there was and we did that today. The Ottoman is the perfect size, it’s much more convenient than the carton box we used the first months but…the it’s not the quality we would expect. One of the hinges is bend and the fabric is damaged. We send an e-mail with our remarks and within minutes after sending the mail we got a response back from John, our own furniture associate at the Crate & Barrel. A new one will be ordered for us to be built the same way and in the mean-time we can keep this one and use it as if it is ours. Again excellent service.

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That evening Danielle baked her famous Chocolate Chip cookies to bring the day after on a real Canadian adventure. Yes, I wanted to do something only die-hard Canadians would do… I planned to search for a geocache on a small island on Buckhorn Lake about 1:45 hours driving from our place. What’s so Canadian about geocaching you might think, the temperature. On this particular day the highest temperature was expected to be -20 degrees celsius with a windchill temperature somewhere close to -40 degrees celsius. And to get to the cache I needed to walk over the frozen snow-covered Buckhorn lake. Lucky for me the Geocache was placed by GEOmamma the mother of one of my coworkers and we were invited to visit their beautiful (and warm) cottage.

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The ride towards Ennismore was beautiful on its own and after a cup of tea and some cookies it was time to put on the snowshoes and walk over the lake. And I can tell you it was really cold, I never expected that you can actually feel the difference between -10, -20 or even -40 degrees but now I can tell you really cold starts at -30 or something. I felt things I’ve never felt before. After only minutes out there my face started to hurt, my coworkers laughed it away and told me to get used to it, it’s normal for real Canadians…oh boy I’ve got a long way to go before I can call myself a real Canadian I think…

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After posing for pictures in the middle of the lake and snowshoeing to Ground Zero it took me longer as usual to find the cache! It was made to blend in and normally I like the more creative geocaches but today I didn’t my hands started to hurt since my gloves aren’t suitable for Canadian winter weather…but I found it and I got some letters in the log, the pen gave up after being a couple of seconds out of my pockets.

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After warming up at a warm spot behind the island we started our walk back to the shore and the warm cottage. Although it was colder as I thought it was a really cool experience in every meaning of the word cool. I’m glad I did went out with this kind of weather to feel what a Canadian winter is about and in the end I was able to write my name down in the log of that geocache with difficulty level 4 and terrain level 5. After a warm lunch and a lot of small talk it was soon close to 4:pm and time to head home. Thanks for letting me experience this David and family!

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The monday was part of the long weekend as it was Family day, a statutory holiday which exists in Ontario since 2007, first time it took place was in 2008. We took it easy since we’ve quite busy week ahead of us but we decided to go see American Sniper in the VIP Movie Theatre at the Shops in Don Mills. It’s a great movie and with those full recliner seats and service in the theatre it got even better.

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Going up north again…

This morning we stayed in bed a bit longer since Danielle was used to the 3 hours time difference and I didn’t woke up from a railway. We wanted to look at some places we went already in 2012 but this time with a different goal or at a different spot. First up was the Hollywood sign, last time we only saw it from a mall at Hollywood Boulevard, this time we wanted to go as close as possible.

On the way to the spot we had no traffic at all and so I decided to take an exit early to drive over Hollywood Boulevard. But then I saw an empty parking spot which was free until 11:00am, that would give us about 1,5 hours to look at the attractions only 3 blocks away…

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After taking the usual pictures and grabbing a frappuccino (did I already wrote that it was about 25 degrees?) for the walk back to our car we continued our tour to 3000 Canyon Lake Drive. There was enough parking space and we got some nice touristy pictures.

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After taking the pictures it was time for lunch which we had at the Farmers’ Market and combined it with shopping for running socks at the Nike Store, a new cover for Danielle her iPhone and a SD-Card to Lightning converter for my iPad at the Apple Store.

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Within 2 hours we were done and left to the Beverly Center. This is the Beverly Hills fashion shopping mall but we weren’t there for shopping at the mall, we went towards a store 157 North Robertson Boulevard.

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Yes, it was the first time we went shopping for Tommy Hilfiger clothing from the European collection this year. But the selection was limited, most of the store were speciality items from the runway collections and since we both don’t have runway sizes… But we still found some nice new items for spring.

After we were done with shopping we went down to the Santa Monica Pier from some more beach time and another sunset. It was much more difficult to make good pictures here since it was really crowded at the beach. But we got some and that with a free parking spot only minutes walking from the pier made it a successful night.

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We went back to the hotel because on Monday we wanted to be at the Disneyland Park as early as possible since we had hopper tickets for both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. And we made it, we were among the first to enter the park and it wasn’t crowded at all. We start of with a Starbucks coffee in Mainstream after which we visited Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear, Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Haunted Mansion and made some pictures with characters before we headed to the other park.

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In California’s Adventure we enjoyed the Aladdin Musical, the Genie in the show is awesome. Afterwards we visited some rides and took character pictures before we headed back to the Disneyland Park to see the Soundsational Parade.

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The parade was fun to see, this is way better as the Christmas parade in Toronto and the weather is much better too.

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While waiting for the parade I found out that Siemens had a joint-venture with the Avengers in the Innoventions building and off course we needed to meet some of my colleagues and take pictures with them.

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Soon it was time to leave and after riding the Storybook Land Canal Boats and It’s a Small World (sponsored by Siemens) we had dinner at the Village Haus. And when we exited we both felt cold and a bit tired which made us decided to go back to the car and leave Disneyland behind.

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The day after would be our last day in California. We had an overnight flight back to Toronto which made us decided to have a really lazy morning in the hotel. In the afternoon we went to Rodeo Drive and we drove through Beverly Hills to look at the huge houses.

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Early in the evening we brought back our rental car. Since the rental facility is located of the airport in a hotel they advised us to come one hour early to make sure we make it to the airport on time. In the end that made us being back really early since we didn’t have traffic on the way to the airport, the shuttle arrived in 5 minutes, there was no waiting line in the terminal and our flight was almost an hour delayed…

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Both really tired we arrived back in a snow-covered Toronto and at 6:4oam we were waiting at the baggage claim and only 40 minutes later we opened the door of our condo….

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From -20 degrees to +20 degrees in one flight…

Winters in Canada are long, very long. On November 18th we had the first day with sub-zero temperatures and it seems like to comes to no end. Since 2008 we go on vacation in the winter months but this year we hadn’t planned anything because of our immigration end of September. But here comes in one of the benefits of my new job, one of our most important trade fairs took place in Southern California. And although it’s winter in California too, the temperatures over there are around 20-25 degrees Celsius above zero. Lucky me…

But how about Danielle? We decided that she would follow me and she took an Air Canada flight to Los Angeles (LAX) on the 5th of February. At LAX she got a rental car from SIXT, we got a great deal, which was a Volvo XC70 with which se drove south over the highway 1 along the pacific coast towards San Diego. She arrived only minutes after the trade fair was done and here our short Californian winter break started. After an early diner at the Cheesecake Factory and walking around in the bay area we went to our hotel the Hampton Inn since Danielle was tired from the trip and I was tired from the show. The hotel was located close to the railroad and we dubbed it Hampton Ding Ding Ding Ding since that was the sound where we woke up with on Friday morning.

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After a fast breakfast we started the day with getting me singed up as a second driver on the car before we drove to Balboa park. We parked our car and wandered around ending up with a visit to the Natural History Museum with an exhibit about “The Discovery of King Tut”. This was the most beautiful part of the museum. After continuing our tour through the park we decided to visit the famous San Diego Zoo.

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At the entrance we were blown away by the entrance fee, 48$ for a zoo… But since we won’t come here often we decided to go for it. And it was worth every single dollar. This is by far the most beautiful zoo we’ve ever seen. It comes close to a Disney theme park and the animals really seemed happier as in every other zoo where we have been. Also the amount of animals was huge. Needless to say we enjoyed this visit including free bus tours in the park and a the ride on the Skyfari Aerial Tram. But we wanted to see more of San Diego…

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In the evening we visited Coronado Island. We went there by car and drove over the huge Coronado bridge. We parked our car near the beach, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches of the United States, before we got to the famous Coronado Resort where we sat down for evening dinner until sunset came close from which I wanted to take pictures. It became cold soon when the sun went away and after a coffee we went back to the hotel.

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Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding…5:30am and we woke up to leave San Diego behind today. We first drove towards the La Jolla area which is the northwestern part of San Diego and famous for its beaches which are sometimes visited by seals. And we were really lucky to spot a couple or maybe not so lucky because of the smell they bring with them…
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After a short coffee break we drove further north and stopped in Oceanside where we walked a long the beach, I guess this is where we got ourselves a bit of a tan from the sun. After having lunch at Tin Fish we drove further to Anaheim where we were staying int the same hotel as where we stayed during our West Coast trip in 2012.

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For dinner we went to Downtown Disney and ordered pizza…I still need to get used to sizes in inches…

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Both tired from the driving and being outside we went to bed early because we had two days with sightseeing ahead of us.

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